The Duncan Banner


November 22, 2013

A moment that changed our nation forever

DUNCAN — Few events have shaken American citizens like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas.

It caused a change in what, until then, was a safe, secure, innocent, trusting lifestyle. It snuffed out the life of a charismatic, articulate leader who had a young, beautiful family and whose difficult decisions in tough times were adding to his support and popularity.

He was in Dallas to build momentum for a 1964 re-election campaign. His motorcade was open and inviting. Huge crowds that jammed sidewalks for a closer view were happy and excited.

Little did anyone know life for us all would change that afternoon.

Events surrounding the shooting and his death shocked an entire country, changed significantly the art of reporting news and created permanent, personal memories that remain vivid even today, 50 years later.

Duncan residents remember it well, recalling precisely where they were when news of the tragedy reached them.

Here is a sampling.

Attorney John Ray Green: I was walking across the campus at Oklahoma State, heading to my political science class. When I got there, the professor had already written a “Class canceled” note on the blackboard.

City councilman and dentist Mike Nelson: I was in the third grade at Irving Elementary. I lived across from the school so when Mr. Monsey (the principal) heard the president had been shot, he asked me to go home and see if my mom would let us have a radio. He put in on the intercom so we could all hear.

Municipal Judge George Sherrill: I was going to an electrical engineering class at Oklahoma State. We were stunned and we didn’t do anything that weekend but watch television.

Former Halliburton executive Jimmy Cooper: I was in a Halliburton car, coming back from doing an audit in Texarkana. I heard the news on a radio. In those days, Halliburton didn’t have radios in its cars so it was on my transistor radio that I hung from the rear view mirror.

Newspaper business manager Linda Rice: I was a freshman at Oceana High School in Pacifica, Calif., I had just left my general business class where my teacher was Mr. Kennedy. A lot of kids were in the hall saying, “Kennedy’s dead. Kennedy’s dead.” I told them “No, he’s not. I was just in his class.” It wasn’t until later she realized they were talking about the president.

Former Duncan Police Chief Dale Anderson: I was in the dispatch office at the old police department (on the south end of what is now the city administration building.). We were watching a small black-and-white TV and all we could tghinkj of was “what in the world is happening down there.”

Retired Judge George Lindley: I was heading into my dorm at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. A friend (Terry Stipp) yelled down from the third floor and said the president had been shot. I said bullxxxx. Then I just stood there. He (Stipp) taped all the radio broadcasts for a week.

Car salesman Joe Vermedahl: I was going into the library at the University of Iowa (in Iowa City). A girl, who had heard the news and was sobbing, pushed the door open so quickly she almost knocked me down.

District Judge Joe Enos: I was going from Mrs. Flanagan’s seventh grade geography class to the physical education and health class. It was fifth hour. We watched television all weekend. Retiree Paul Craig: I was in high school at Elk City. We only had one television in the entire school. It was in the library. When the news broke, they let classes out and we all went to the library to watch.

Retired teacher Marcella Kovar: I was doing my student teaching in the Elk City School District. I was teaching third grade. My supervisor pulled me out of class and told me. Everyone was quite. There was no talking at all.

Retired Judge Phil Leonard: I was in Gainesville, Texas. I was working as a landman in Oklahoma City at the time. I went to lunch and saw it on TV. I did what everyone else did that day. I didn’t go back to work. I got in my car and drove all the way back to Moore, Okla., where I was living at the time. My wife and I stayed in all weekend.

Duncan Public Library Director Jan Cole: I was in fourth grade at Velma-Alma Elementary School when Kennedy was shot. They announced over the loud speaker. And there was just kind of a stunned silence because we weren’t quite sure what all that meant. It was scary and confusing. We learned a new vocabulary word. And that word was “assassination.”

Vice chairman of the Southwest Oklahoma Railroad Association Rick Duncan: I was in college, freshman English class at Fresno City College in Fresno, Calif. I don’t remember how I learned of it, maybe the instructor told us.

Patsy Duncan (Rick’s wife): It was my senior year in high school (Corcoran, Calif.) and I was in the physiology lab. It was right after lunch. The boy who came in and told us was the class clown, Johnny Gregory. We kept waiting for the punch line and it took us the longest time to realize it wasn’t a joke.

The Duncans said it that with so much trauma in the world today, it might be difficult for today’s young people to understand how different the world was then.

“The assassination of President Kennedy occurred in a very calm and trauma free era. All was right with the world ... and suddenly all was terribly wrong and very confusing,” she said.

Text Only
  • Why Taco Bell is turning its health menu into a muscle menu

    Like it or not, the paleo diet fad has now gone mainstream.
    This week, Taco Bell announced that it will be beefing up its menu - quite literally - by launching a new menu centered around meat and protein.

    July 11, 2014

  • Emmy nominations: 8 snub shockers

    A lot of beloved shows and stars got  Emmy nominations on Thursday morning but there were definitely some snub shockers.

    July 11, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 11.24.10 AM.png VIDEO: Pilot buys pizzas for storm-delayed travelers

    A Frontier Airlines pilot went above and beyond the call of duty when a recent flight from Washington, D.C. to Denver was diverted to Cheyenne, Wyoming due to bad weather.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

     I climbed the ladder quickly, free to work any hours in any location for any pay. I moved from market to market, always achieving a better title, a better salary. Succeeding.

    July 9, 2014

  • Transformers sequel, McCarthy flick fizzle at box office

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Fourth of July went off like a dud at the box office, as the Michael Bay sequel "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and the Melisa McCarthy comedy "Tammy" led the weakest summer holiday weekend in at least a decade.

    July 6, 2014

  • breaking-up.jpg Thinking about breaking up? Flip a coin

    In their latest book, 'Think Like a Freak," Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner suggest that, contrary to what many people have told you in life, you should quit. That is, when things get tough, you shouldn't always tough them out and stick with it. Instead, you should quit and do so sooner rather than later.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Internet has changed how we curse

    Relatively recent technologies — cable television, satellite radio, and social media — provide us with a not-too-unrealistic picture of how often people swear in public and what they say when they do.

    June 24, 2014

  • baby-generic.jpg For millennials, out-of-wedlock childbirth is the norm

    This month brings us yet another reminder that, for young Americans, having children outside of marriage is very much "the new normal," as The New York Times once put it.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yacouba Seydou_2_BV.jpg Reconnecting: Missionary family returns to Enid for visit

    Yacouba Seydou, his wife, Renate Seydou, and their children, Sarah, 14, and Levi, 10, arrived Monday and will make several appearances around Enid while here.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo


Tattoos are

Too prevalent
A fad
Don't care one way or another
     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.